Selected Federal Agency Announcements and Related for the Week of June 11, 2018

The following is a selection of recent announcements gleaned from various federal sources and colleagues, and is provided to EDA’s Economic Development Integrators to increase our awareness of complementary resources for economic developmentSpecial thanks to ETA and other federal partners for sharing content included below.

Also visit the following links on our updated EDI webpages at for additional information about federal resources that are available to support comprehensive regional economic development strategies, including:

Click here to view all weekly federal announcement posts.



Funding & Resource Announcements

Announcements of Federal Funding & Assistance Available:


Economic – Access to Capital

Economic Development Administration Announces Funding Opportunity for the University Center Economic Development Program for Austin and Denver Region Geographies

References: Federal funding opportunities, Federal strategic plans, regional economic development, entrepreneurship, STEM, workforce training, distressed communities, broadband, supply chains, technical assistance… 

The purpose of the Economic Development Administration University Center Economic Development Program is to enable institutions of higher education and consortia of institutions of higher education to establish and operate University Centers specifically focused on using university assets to build regional economic ecosystems that support innovation and high-growth entrepreneurship. University Centers collaborate with other EDA partners by providing expertise and technical assistance to develop, implement and support regional strategies which result in job creation, high-skilled regional talent pools, and business expansion in a region’s innovation clusters.  Expertise and technical assistance may address, for example, applied research centers, technology commercialization, feasibility studies, market research, economic impact analyses training, and other technical assistance to help communities foster vibrant economic ecosystems.

EDA recognizes that institutions of higher education are critical players in the development of vibrant economic ecosystems. Universities are sources of significant economic development assets—such as faculty, staff, students, research and proof of concept centers, laboratories, and high-speed broadband networks—that can support regional economic growth. In addition, universities create significant knowledge spillovers and possess broader and deeper networks of expertise that can assist innovators and entrepreneurs. Potential university-based support for economic growth includes the commercialization of research, the conversion of intellectual property and ideas into products and services, and the support of regionally-owned strategies that support business expansion and job creation.

Since FY 2004, EDA has administered the University Center program as a competitive multi-year program.

In FY 2018, EDA has announced it is holding the competition for its Austin and Denver Regional Office geographies.  An accredited institution of higher education, including a community college or junior college, or a consortium of accredited institutions of higher education is eligible to apply for and to receive funding under these competitions.



EDA encourages the submission of applications that will create and nurture regional economic ecosystems through science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skill development, workforce training opportunities, applied research and development, technology commercialization, and targeted activities that cultivate entrepreneurship and improve regional economic development. A regional economic ecosystem supports innovation clusters through three main components

  • A highly networked regional talent pool, with specialized expertise relevant to the region’s innovation clusters (including connections along the supply chain and across disciplines so that researchers, academics, investors, suppliers, and entrepreneurs can efficiently share ideas and best practices);
  • A support system for turning discoveries into marketable goods and services, including business counseling, incubation programs, and proof-of-concept centers; and
  • Innovation infrastructure (which includes both tangible and non-tangible types) necessary to support innovation such as education, workforce development, and financial infrastructure.
In addition, EDA encourages University Center program applications that:

  • Align with the DOC Strategic Plan 2018-2022, with a focus on advancing STEM skills and capabilities, supporting workforce training opportunities in accordance with the needs of local and regional employers, and/or enhancing manufacturing capacities within the region.
  • Benefit distressed communities by linking these communities to larger, more vibrant regional economies, including rural-urban linkages; Present a clear plan for collaborating with and assisting other EDA investment partners, recipients, and stakeholders, including EDA-funded Economic Development Districts (EDDs) and Indian Tribes;
  • Encompass regional, Statewide, and multi-State programs, and create synergies within EDA’s Public Works, Economic Adjustment Assistance, and Partnership Planning programs;
  • Offer services within a well-defined geographic region in the States and territories covered by the Denver and Austin Regional Offices, and provide a full range of economic development research and technical assistance services to EDA regional partners; and
  • Tailor services to the region’s needs and each sponsoring institution’s (or consortium’s) strengths.




Economic – Entrepreneurship & Technology Commercialization

NEW! Department of Energy Launches $3 Million Prize Competition to Boost Domestic Solar Manufacturing

June 7 — Today, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced the launch of the American-Made Solar Prize, a competition to revitalize U.S. solar manufacturing. The program will support entrepreneurs as they develop transformative ideas into concepts and then into early-stage prototypes ready for industry testing.

Entrepreneurial individuals and teams will compete through a series of three successive prize contests designed to develop new products to be made in America. Competitors will have access to mentoring and other supportive resources through a network of national labs, incubators, investors, and industry experts.

“The Administration is fully committed to strengthening America’s manufacturing competitiveness,” said Secretary Perry. “The Solar Prize brings together the nation’s best-in-class research resources, unparalleled entrepreneurial support system, and competitive, American spirit to create new innovations primed for private investment.”

“We share this administration’s desire for strong American solar manufacturing, and this prize competition is a good way to spur innovative ideas,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “The U.S. solar industry is a leader in entrepreneurship and ingenuity, and we support efforts like these that can pave the way to competitiveness for American companies.”

To win the final prize, participants must identify an impactful solution that addresses critical challenges related to American solar competitiveness, create a proof of concept, and secure a committed partner to test a prototype. Competitors will also participate in demo days, where they will pitch their idea to a team of expert reviewers, who will evaluate competitors based on the quality of their solution and the progress made during the contest period. The $3 million in funding from the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will be distributed through a series of three contests:

  1. Ready! Contest (up to $50,000 prize per winner): Winners will be selected after identifying an impactful idea or solution addressing a critical need in America’s solar industry.
  2. Set! Contest (up to $200,000 prize per winner): Competitors will work to substantially advance their technology solution toward a viable and promising proof of concept.
  3. Go! Contest ($500,000 prize per winner): Competitors will work to substantially advance their solution from proof of concept to a refined prototype and find a partner to perform a pilot test of the prototype.

Participants in this program can be entrepreneurial individuals, representatives of a company, university students or professors, small business owners, or researchers at a national laboratory, as long as they are based in the U.S. and have the desire to bring an impactful solution to advance U.S. solar competitiveness. Competitors must submit applications HERE by October 5, 2018 to participate.

The solar community is encouraged to submit business challenges to the competition HERE. Through this online portal, the community can comment on ideas and connect with contestants so that potential solutions can be ready for market impact by the end of the competition.

The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to administer the American-Made Solar Prize. Sign up to participate in an informational webinar HERE.

Learn more about DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy HERE.

Economic Development Administration Announces Funding Opportunities under the FY 2018 Regional Innovation Strategies Program (i6 Challenge and Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant Competition)

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) is committed to fostering connected, innovation-centric economic sectors that support the conversion of research into products and services, businesses, and ultimately jobs through entrepreneurship.

EDA has announced that funding is available for capacity-building programs that provide proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and for operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage funding to startups.  The RIS Program empowers communities to provide proof-of-concept and commercialization assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs and operational support for organizations that provide essential early-stage funding to startups, building platforms from which they can best leverage public and private sector infrastructure investments in broadband and digital connectivity, transportation, education, and beyond.

Under the RIS Program, EDA is soliciting applications for two separate competitions:

  • 2018 i6 Challenge

The i6 Challenge is designed to increase entrepreneurship that is driven by innovations, ideas, intellectual property (IP), and applied research through the process of technology commercialization and that results in new businesses, accelerated paths to export, increased FDI, and new jobs.

EDA plans to award approximately $16,000,000 under the 2018 i6 Challenge. The maximum Federal share of each i6 Challenge grant is $750,000.

  • 2018 Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant Competition

Through the SFS Grant Competition, EDA provides funding for technical assistance and operational costs, such as conducting feasibility studies, engaging in planning activities, etc., that support the formation, launch, or scale of cluster-focused seed funds that invest their capital in innovation-based startups with a potential for high growth and job creation. For the purposes of this NOFO, a seed fund is an investment fund that, through equity-based instruments, generally invests in new and young companies with high growth potential and that is operated by one or more professional fund managers.

EDA plans to award approximately $5,000,000 under the 2018 SFS Grant Competition. The maximum Federal share of each SFS Grant is $300,000.

Eligible applicants for EDA financial assistance under this NOFO include:

  • A State;
  • An Indian tribe;
  • A city or other political subdivision of a State;
  • An entity whose application is supported by a State or a political subdivision of a State and that is—
  • a nonprofit organization,
  • an institution of higher education,
  • a public-private partnership,
  • a science or research park,
  • a Federal laboratory, or
  • an economic development organization or similar entity; or
  • A consortium of any of the immediately aforementioned entities


EDA plans to conduct an informational webinar for this NOFO and expects to make available scheduling information and a link to a recording at

The deadline for receipt of applications is August 29.

Also see:

Economic- Technical Assistance

NIST MEP launches Manufacturing Policy Academy

From SSTI’s May 31 Newsletter

NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership program launched a new Policy Academy focused on manufacturing this week. Funded by NIST MEP and organized by SSTI and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC), the Policy Academy is designed to help states build upon existing strategies, leverage available resources, and spur creative new ideas about how to address major challenges or leverage opportunities around the manufacturing sector. Through a customized and collaborative experience, the Policy Academy will help teams of four-to-ten members representing a cross-section of policymakers and practitioners from relevant state agencies and stakeholder groups to identify best practices, partnerships, and policies to strengthen the manufacturers in their states.

The request for proposals, which can be downloaded here, covers the first of two academy cohorts, with up to four states selected. The first cohort will be from states selected from the 15 states that are not holding gubernatorial elections in 2018 (Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia). The second cohort, in 2019-2020, will be selected from the remaining states. For additional information regarding eligibility and how to apply, contact Jonathan Dworin at SSTI.

All states are required to engage a Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP) Center on their proposal team.

The downloadable RFP includes application guidelines. The deadline to submit a proposal is July 6, 2018, by 5 p.m. EDT. SSTI will host a bidders’ conference call on June 12 at 3 p.m. EDT, to offer guidance and answer specific questions about the request for proposals. Details about this call are included in the request for proposals.



NEW! Department of Education Announces Funding Opportunities under the GEAR UP Program


Absolute Priority Categories Contain References to WIOA, Skills Attainment, Work-Based Learning, Apprenticeships, Postsecondary Credential Attainment, Industry Sectors, STEM, Financial Literacy, and Civic Education  

The GEAR UP program is a discretionary grant program that encourages eligible entities to provide support, and maintain a commitment, to eligible low-income students, including students with disabilities, to assist the students in obtaining a secondary school diploma (or its recognized equivalent) and to prepare for and succeed in postsecondary education.   (See:

Under the GEAR UP program, the Department of Education awards grants to two types of entities: (1) States and (2) partnerships consisting of at least one institution of higher education (IHE) and at least one local educational agency (LEA).

The Department has announced two funding opportunities today:

Partnership Grant Applications Due: July 13

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.    Estimated Available Funds: The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 provided $350,000,000 for the GEAR UP program for FY 2018, of which we intend to use an estimated $129,666,000 for new GEAR UP awards. The estimated funding available for the new GEAR UP Partnership awards is $64,833,000.    Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in subsequent years from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Estimated Range of Awards:              $100,000-$7,000,000. Estimated Average Size of Awards:                    $1,200,000.    Maximum Award: We will not fund any application for a partnership grant above the maximum award of $800 per student for a single budget period of 12 months. Applications that request more than the maximum amount, except in the case of minimal technical or rounding errors, may be penalized. Additionally, no funding will be awarded for increases in an approved budget after the first 12-month budget period. As described in 34 CFR 694.1, the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Estimated Number of Awards: 54.

State Grant Applications Due: July 13

Type of Award: Discretionary grants.    Estimated Available Funds: The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 provided $350,000,000 for the GEAR UP program for FY 2018, of which we intend to use an estimated $129,666,000 for new GEAR UP awards. The estimated funding available for the new GEAR UP State awards is $54,833,000.  Contingent upon the availability of funds and the quality of applications, we may make additional awards in subsequent years from the list of unfunded applications from this competition.

Estimated Range of Awards:               $2,500,000-$3,500,000. Estimated Average Size of Awards:                         $3,000,000.     Maximum Award: We will not fund any application for a State grant above the maximum award of $3,500,000 for a single budget period of 12 months. Applications that request more than the maximum amount, except in the case of minimal technical or rounding errors, may be penalized. Additionally, no funding will be awarded for increases in budget after the first 12-month budget period. As described in 34 CFR 694.1, the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education may change the maximum amount through a notice published in the Federal Register.

Estimated Number of Awards: 18.

The absolute priority has four categories:

Category 1: Fostering Flexible and Affordable Paths To Obtaining Knowledge and Skills
Projects that are designed to address one or more of the following priority areas:
(a) Developing or implementing pathways to recognized postsecondary credentials (as defined in section 3(52) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 (WIOA)) focused on career and technical skills that align with in-demand industry sectors or occupations (as defined in section 3(23) of WIOA). Students may obtain such credentials through a wide variety of education providers, such as: IHEs eligible for Federal student financial aid programs, nontraditional education providers (e.g., apprenticeship programs or computer coding boot camps), and providers of self-guided learning;
(b) Providing work-based learning experiences (such as internships, apprenticeships, and fellowships) that align with in-demand industry sectors or occupations (as defined in section 3(23) of WIOA);
(c) Creating or expanding innovative paths to a recognized postsecondary credential or obtainment of job-ready skills that align with in-demand industry sectors or occupations (as defined in section 3(23) of WIOA), such as through career pathways (as defined in section 3(7) of WIOA). Such credentials may be offered to students through a wide variety of education providers, such as providers eligible for Federal student financial aid programs, nontraditional education providers, and providers of self-guided learning; or (d) Creating or expanding opportunities for students to obtain recognized postsecondary credentials in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, or computer science (as defined in this notice).

Category 2: Promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) Education, With a Particular Focus on Computer Science 

Category 3: Protecting Freedom of Speech and Encouraging Respectful Interactions in a Safe Educational Environment, or Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills That Prepare Students To Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens…. (b) Fostering knowledge of the common rights and responsibilities of American citizenship and civic participation, such as through civics education consistent with section 203(12) of WIOA.

Category 4: Fostering Knowledge and Promoting the Development of Skills That Prepare Students To Be Informed, Thoughtful, and Productive Individuals and Citizens
Projects that are designed to address supporting instruction in personal financial literacy, knowledge of markets and economics, knowledge of higher education financing and repayment (e.g., college savings and student loans), or other skills aimed at building personal financial understanding and responsibility.



Previously Announced Federal Funding Opportunities Closing Soon:  

Below is a list of previously highlighted funding opportunities that are still open. Enter the Opportunity Number in to see announcement details. You can also search for a full list of current federal opportunities, including programs not listed below.


Opportunity Number Opportunity Title Agency Posted Date Close Date
USDA-NIFA-FSMA-006549 Food Safety Outreach Competitive Grant Program 2018 USDA-NIFA 04/16/2018 06/07/2018
NNH18ZDA001N-DISASTERS ROSES 2018: Earth Science Applications: Disaster Risk Reduction and Response NASA-HQ 02/15/2018 06/14/2018
DE-FOA-0001755 Industry Partnerships for Cybersecurity of Energy Delivery Systems (CEDS) Research, Development and Demonstration DOE-NETL 04/16/2018 06/18/2018
NSF 17-590 Improving Undergraduate STEM Education: Education and Human Resources NSF 08/22/2017 10/01/2018
NEW! EPA-GM-COOPERATIVE-AGREEMENTS-2018-1 Gulf of Mexico Program Cooperative Agreements 2018 EPA 05/31/2018 07/31/2018

Other Funding of Interest

NEW! Place-making Grant Opportunity: National Endowment for the Arts Announces 2018 “Our Town” Grant Program

Our Town is the National Endowment for the Arts’ creative placemaking grants program. These grants support projects that integrate arts, culture, and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities by advancing local economic, physical, and/or social outcomes. Click here for GUIDELINES »  And view a webinar for instructions on how to apply:

Our Town: How to Apply Webinar
June 20, 2018   3:00-4:00pm ET
Design & Creative Placemaking Program Specialists will walk through the application process and provide helpful hints for navigating the NEA’s new application portal.


Our Town: Tips & Tricks for a Successful Application Webinar
June 27, 2018   3:00-4:00pm ET
Design & Creative Placemaking Program Specialists will share tips on how to ensure your Our Town application is clear and compelling.


NEW! USDA Renewable Resources Extension Act-National Focus Fund Projects (RREA-NFF)

The purpose of the grant program is to provide funds for pilot projects that: (1) Address emerging forest and rangeland resource issues, (2) Have national or regional relevancy, or (3) Develop new and innovative projects that can be replicated at other institutions. Who is eligible to apply: 1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions Request for Applications

Apply for Grant

Closing Date: Friday, July 20, 2018

Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-NIFA-OP-006611

Estimated Total Program Funding: $300,000


NEW! USDA Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program

The Food and Agriculture Service Learning Program is intended to increase the knowledge of agriculture and improve the nutritional health of children and to bring together stakeholders from the distinct parts of the food system to increase the capacity for food, garden, and nutrition education within host organizations or entities, such as school cafeterias and classrooms, while fostering higher levels of community engagement between farms and school systems. The initiative is part of a broader effort to not only increase access to school meals for low-income children, but also to dramatically improve their quality. Who is eligible to apply:  State agricultural experiment stations; colleges and universities; university research foundations; other research institutions and organizations; Federal agencies; national laboratories; private organizations, foundations, or corporations; individuals; or any group consisting of 2 or more entities described in this paragraph. Request for Applications

Apply for Grant

Closing Date: Monday, July 9, 2018

Funding Opportunity Number: USDA-NIFA-FASLP-006610

Estimated Total Program Funding: $960,000


Public Meetings, Events and Training

NEW! Infrastructure’s Future: Strategies, Funding, Best Practices June 20th

In Denver on June 20, 2018. Open to Public Sector only. Join leaders and innovators at Governing’s 2018 Infrastructure Summit. From transportation to water, energy and sustainability, this is the event for those on the front lines — building America’s future. Registration is free. For questions or to register, contact: Shayna M. Mayen 916-932-1314 direct, email: [email protected]

NEW! June 14 Webinar: Panel to Explore the “Future of American Job Centers”; Address Challenges, Opportunities, and Relevant Trends


The Employment and Training Administration will host a June 14 (1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET) webinar examining the future of American Job Centers.

Changes in AJC customers’ needs and advances in technology have significantly altered how customers access services.  AJCs are working to adapt to changing needs, challenges and opportunities, but what about 5, 10, or 20 years from now?  Workforce representatives across eight states collaborated to identify challenges, opportunities, and relevant trends, for possible service delivery solutions for the future of AJCs.

As required by Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), many AJC delivery systems are moving toward enhanced integration, dynamic partnerships, and customer-centered service delivery, but wouldn’t it be exciting to be at the forefront of imagining how AJCs might meet the needs of jobseekers and businesses in the future? What if you had the opportunity to not only connect with your peers, who got advice from leading technology and other industry leaders along the way? What technologies can we adopt to improve user experiences? What modes of delivery will reach our customers and still allow us to develop essential human connections?  Target audience: AJC staff, State/Local Workforce Development Board (WDB) staff and board members, partner agencies that provide services to businesses.


Charlotte Harris, Workforce Analyst, U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration


Christy Montgomery, Senior Analyst, Maher & Maher

Matt Musante, Analyst, Maher & Maher

Geoff King, Senior Policy Analyst, National Governors Association

Registration at


June 21 Webinar: SNAP E&T and WIOA — Partnering to Raise Skills and Employment; Principals from Minnesota and Oregon to Present

SNAP Employment and Training Programs (SNAP E&T) and State and local workforce agencies share a common goal of enabling low-income individuals to gain skills necessary to qualify for jobs leading to self-sufficiency. Guidance issued by Food and Nutrition Service in March 2016 encouraged SNAP and workforce agencies to collaborate on shared strategies that connect SNAP recipients — particularly able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs) — to provide employment and training services through American Job Centers (also known as one-stop centers).

This webinar will highlight how States can use SNAP E&T funds strategically, along with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) resources, to expand the types of services E&T participants receive to more comprehensively meet their needs and improve outcomes. Representatives from Work systems in Portland, Oregon and the State of Minnesota will share how their SNAP E&T program and workforce systems are working together, including through third-party partnership models.

This webinar will be on June 21, 2018 and held from 10:00 a.m to 11:30 a.m. PDT/1:00 p.m to 2:30 p.m. EDT.


  • Julie Strawn, Principal Associate, Social & Economic Policy, Abt Associates
  • Worksystems, Portland, Oregon
  • State of Minnesota Department of Human Services, Saint Paul, Minnesota

June 27 Webinar: Hurricane Preparedness with OnTheMap for Emergency Management

The U.S. Census Bureau and the Local Employment Dynamics (LED) Partnership in collaboration with the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) welcomes Earlene Dowell and Jody Hoon-Starr. Earlene and Jody will highlight useful functions of the OnTheMap for Emergency Management data tool.

OnTheMap for Emergency Management is a public data tool, developed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which provides an intuitive web-based interface for viewing the potential effects of disasters on the U.S. workforce and population. Users can easily retrieve reports containing detailed workforce, population, and housing characteristics for hurricanes, floods, wildfires, winter storms, and federal disaster declaration areas.

About our presenters:

Earlene Dowell is the Program Analyst for the Center for Economic Studies’ Longitudinal-Employer Household Dynamics Program at the U.S. Census Bureau. Earlene travels around the nation promoting and training people on LEHD products. She received her Master’s degree in communications and a Bachelor’s degree in public relations from Hawaii Pacific University.

Jody Hoon-Starr, who is a Geographer with the LEHD Program, earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the University of Colorado and his Master’s degree in GIS from the University of Maryland.

June 27 / 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Registration:

Census Bureau Requests Nominations of Individuals and Organizations to the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations

The Census Bureau is requesting nominations of individuals and organizations to the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations (Committee). The Census Bureau will consider nominations received in response to this notice, as well as from other sources. The “Supplementary Information” section of the notice provides Committee and membership criteria.

The notice will appear in the June 4 FEDERAL REGISTER.  The pre-publication version is available at



Reports, Tools and Data

NEW! Reports and Research on Resilience

Earlier this year 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, released a report, Safer and Stronger Cities: Strategies for Advocating for Federal Resiliency Policy. This report, which was prepared by Enterprise Community Partners in collaboration with Climate Resilience Consulting, Georgetown Climate Center and HR&A Advisors, offers a menu of federal policy recommendations that can help cities become more resilient in the face of changing conditions, focusing on infrastructure, housing, flood insurance, economic development, and public safety. These policy recommendations have been endorsed by 22 mayors from across the country. Read the report on the Enterprise website

NEW! USDA Announces $309 Million Investment in Rural Electric Utilities

June 7, 2018 – Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today announced that USDA is investing $309 million in 16 projects (PDF, 107 KB) to improve rural electric infrastructure in 12 states.

Hazlett made the announcement here today during a visit to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative. One of its members, Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, Iowa, is receiving a $1.4 million USDA loan to invest in smart grid projects. Farmers plans to install more than 5,800 single-phase meters and additional meter reading equipment in its west-central Iowa service area.

The loans announced today are being made through USDA’s Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee program. It helps finance generation, transmission and distribution projects; system improvements; and energy conservation projects in communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

Farmers Electric Cooperative and Harrison County REC join many other rural electric cooperatives and utilities that partner with USDA to use smart grid for computer applications, two-way communications, geospatial information systems and other tools to increase the reliability and efficiency of electric power systems.

Today’s investments will build or improve 1,660 miles of electric line serving rural homes, farms and businesses. USDA is funding infrastructure improvements for utilities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, South Dakota and Washington.

Funding for these loans was included in the FY 2018 Omnibus spending bill. It allocates significant resources for infrastructure investments, including $6.25 billion to USDA for electric loans. The measure also directs Secretary Perdue to make investments in rural communities with the greatest infrastructure needs.

In addition to funding in the 2018 Omnibus bill, President Trump has proposed a $200 billion infrastructure investment plan that allocates 25 percent ($50 billion) to rural projects.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a key recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit

NEW! HUD Announces First Round of ‘EnVision Center” Designations in 17 Communities around the Nation

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson traveled to his hometown of Detroit today (June 7) to announce the first round of ‘EnVision Center’ designations in 17 communities around the nation.  One of Secretary Carson’s signature initiatives, EnVision Centers will offer HUD-assisted families access to support services that can help them achieve self-sufficiency, thereby making scarce federal resources more readily available to a greater number of households currently waiting to receive HUD assistance.  Read more about HUD’s EnVision Center Demonstration.

Secretary Carson and Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan met with public housing residents, community leaders and other stakeholders at Life Remodeled’s Durfee Innovation Society, among the first group of demonstration communities named today.

Located on or near public housing developments, EnVision Centers will be centralized hubs that serve as an incubator to support four key pillars of self-sufficiency— (1) Economic Empowerment, (2) Educational Advancement, (3) Health and Wellness, and (4) Character and Leadership.

News Release at



 State  City Housing / Community Partnering Organization Municipal Partnering Agency
California San Diego San Diego Housing Commission & San Diego Workforce Partnership City of San Diego
Connecticut Hartford Hartford Housing Authority & Catholic Charities City of Hartford
District of Columbia Washington District of Columbia Housing Authority District of Columbia
Illinois Chicago A Safe Haven Foundation & All Chicago Making Homelessness History City of Chicago
Kansas Kansas City aSTEAM Village, Kansas City Kansas Housing Authority City of Kansas City, Kansas
Kentucky Bowling Green Housing Authority of Bowling Green & WROTE, Inc. City of Bowling Green
Michigan Detroit Detroit Housing Commission City of Detroit
Detroit Life Remodeled City of Detroit
Inkster Inkster Housing Commission City of Inkster
Missouri Kansas City aSTEAM Village, Kansas City Missouri Housing Authority City of Kansas City, Missouri
New Jersey Phillipsburg Community Prevention Resources of Warren County & Phillipsburg Housing Authority Town of Phillipsburg
North Carolina Hickory Western Piedmont Council of Governments Regional Housing Authority City of Hickory
North Dakota Grand Forks Grand Forks Homes, Inc. & Grand Forks Housing Authority City of Grand Forks
Ohio Youngstown United Returning Citizens Inc & Youngstown Metropolitan Housing Authority City of Youngstown
Oklahoma Choctaw Nation Choctaw Nation & Choctaw Nation Housing Authority City of Poteau
Pennsylvania Philadelphia Philadelphia Housing Authority City of Philadelphia
Texas Fort Worth Fort Worth Housing Solutions City of Fort Worth
Washington Spokane Spokane Area Workforce Development Council & Spokane Housing Authority City of Spokane

NEW! New Website Will Help Florida Businesses Prepare for Natural Disasters

Today (June 6), the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) announced the launch of a new website,, to help Florida businesses prepare for and recover from hurricanes and other disasters. By providing critical information before, during and after a disaster, the website will help businesses recover and get Floridians back to work following emergencies.

Features of the new website include:

  • A disaster planning toolkit to help businesses prepare for hurricanes and other disasters;
  • Critical disaster updates from the State Emergency Operations Center to keep businesses informed during emergencies; and
  • A Business Damage Assessment Survey to help businesses get back up and running after an emergency.

Governor Scott said, “Floridians understand the importance of being prepared for disasters, especially during hurricane season. This new website will help businesses make safe and informed decisions for themselves, their employees and their customers. Every Florida business can visit, make a disaster plan and stay updated as we move further into hurricane season.”

Cissy Proctor, DEO Executive Director, said, “The new provides key resources and information to help Florida’s job creators in the face of a disaster. We know that businesses, like individuals and families, must be prepared with a plan, and will guide businesses step-by-step to help them prepare and recover quickly from an emergency.”

Wes Maul, Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said, “Effectively preparing for, responding to and recovering from disasters takes input from the whole community. This valuable tool will boost Florida’s private sector engagement during emergencies and help raise awareness of available resources. Ensuring our businesses can reopen quickly is critical to the speedy recovery of our impacted communities.” is a partnership between DEO and the Florida Division of Emergency Management. Other partners include the U.S. Department of Commerce, Florida State University’s Center for Disaster Risk Policy, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Retail Federation, VISIT FLORIDA, the Florida Small Business Development Center Network and others. DEO is the lead agency for the support of business, industry and economic stabilization during a statewide disaster.

NEW! Facebook Announces Pledge to Train 1,000,000 U.S. Businesses and People by 2020.

By Amy Brooks, Business Education Director

Today (June 8) we’re announcing our pledge to train 1 million US business owners and equip more people with the digital skills they need to compete in today’s workplace. As our CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said, we want to make it easier for people to find jobs and grow businesses. According to recent predictions, the skilled labor shortage in America could create 85.2 million unfilled jobs by 2030. We are committed to helping reverse the skills gap in America by giving individuals and companies the tools they need to flourish in an increasingly digital economy.

Local business owners in the US tell us that digital and social media expertise are important both to running their businesses and as a consideration when hiring. In fact, a lot of business owners value a candidate’s digital skills above where they went to school. When we speak to people in local communities, the insights are even more telling. In Houston, for example, more than 95% of job seekers say it is important to have digital skills when looking for a job, yet only 15% rate their digital skills as excellent.

And while people tell us these skills are important, free resources are not easy to find. We want to help change that. Our plan is to work side by side with communities to provide more free in-person training, mentorship and online courses. Here are some resources available today and a view of what else we’re going to build.

Expanding our in-person programs and creating more local partnerships
Closing the digital skills gap is something we can’t do alone. That’s why we’re developing local partnerships across the US so we can create free training for skills like coding, digital marketing, and more.

Last November we announced a new digital training program, Facebook Community Boost, which will now expand to visit 50 US cities by the end of 2018. We’ve also partnered with and trained more than 60 organizations in twelve US cities. By the end of the year we plan to establish new local partnerships which include teaming up with 20 community colleges to offer digital marketing training. This is similar to an initiative we announced with Central New Mexico Community College and Des Moines Areas Community College or the new initiative in Boston with Bunker Hill Community College and Roxbury Community College.

We’re starting to see encouraging results from these programs. In Michigan, for example, we’re partnering with Grand Circus to train 3,000 people in digital marketing and coding over the next two years. We’ve trained 16 local organizations and have started running free workshops for hundreds of people across the state. And 85% of the first coding bootcamp graduates have either found a new or better paying job. Grand Circus’ new 12-week bootcamp will kick off in July 2018.

More online curriculum and a new online e-learning platform
Small and local businesses (and even big brands) ask us for more training on how to use Facebook and Instagram to build and grow their businesses. In March 2015 we launched Facebook Blueprint, which includes a free eLearning available in 14 different languages, designed to do just that. With nearly 80 online courses, Blueprint allows people to learn about Facebook and Instagram marketing at their own pace. Plus, our Blueprint team works with local associations such as the Small Business Administration, America’s Small Business Development Centers and National Small Business Association to offer free in-person local training events leveraging Blueprint curriculum. So far, more than 160,000 US small businesses have been trained using Blueprint, and by 2020 we plan to train an additional 250,000.

In the early fall of 2018, we’ll also launch Learn with Facebook, a free online training resource to equip people with the skills they need to grow and become drivers of their local economies. Today people in the US can sign-up here so they can be alerted directly when the platform is live. This platform will provide access to new digital skills training for people across skill levels and interests; whether you’re a student wanting to learn digital marketing skills, a job seeker wanting to bolster your CV, a seasoned professional looking to retrain, or a budding entrepreneur wanting to turn an idea into a reality, we’ll have tools available to help you reach your goals.

In order to sustain economic growth for the future, we need to focus on training our workforce today. That’s why we’re investing in creating more free resources and we’ll share what we learn along the way.


NEW! Workforce Development Training Materials available at no-cost

World’s Largest Digital Library of Workforce Training Materials is available at no cost: is home to materials produced by grantees of the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) program, a $2 billion federal workforce investment to equip community colleges to help adults learn skills that lead to living-wage jobs: Attached link:Home – SkillsCommons Repository. Click to open in new tab.


Disaster Recovery Resources & Info

Primary site for Disaster Recovery Assistance:

Funding Assistance for Recovery Efforts:

NEW! FTA Announces Funding under the Transportation Emergency Relief Program

Of potential interest to the Boards in the affected geographies given the potential workforce requirements for response, recovery, and rebuilding projects.

The Federal Transit Administration has published a notice in the May 31 FEDERAL REGISTER announcing the allocation of $277.5 million under the Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program (Emergency Relief Program) to States, Territories, and public transportation agencies affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Within the $277.5 million announced in this notice, FTA is allocating $233.3 million for response, recovery, and rebuilding projects and $44.2 million for project elements or stand-alone projects that increase the resilience of the affected transit systems to future disasters. Such resilience investments shall be subject to specific conditions cited in this notice.

See for complete background and allocations by geography.


Beginning in August 2017, President Trump issued major disaster declarations associated with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria for the following States and Territories: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Numerous counties and parishes in these States and Territories have been designated as eligible for assistance under the major disaster declarations.

FTA will host a webinar for FTA recipients interested in applying for FTA Emergency Relief funds on a date to be determined. The webinar will be announced on FTA’s website and through an email announcement to those who have signed up at  to receive email updates from FTA regarding the Emergency Relief Program.

Public transportation agencies, States, Territories, local governmental authorities, Indian tribes, and other FTA grant recipients that provide or fund public transportation service in the affected areas are eligible for Emergency Relief funding under the program.

Of the $330 million appropriated, a total of $2,475,000 is set aside for administrative expenses and ongoing program management oversight activities as authorized under the Bipartisan Budget Act.

From the remaining $327,525,000 currently available for allocation, FTA is allocating $277,525,000 as follows:

  • $232,308,000 for response, recovery, and rebuilding for States, Territories, and FTA direct recipients with estimated FTA Emergency Relief costs, including costs of sub recipients, eligible for reimbursement of more than $25,000
  • $44,217,000 for resilience projects in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, and the United States Virgin Islands
  • $1 million for response, recovery, and rebuilding for States, FTA direct recipients, and their sub recipients without a direct allocation of funds

FTA is reserving $50 million for latent damages, damages not assessed in smaller areas, cost increases, and additional Emergency Relief needs that exceed the amounts made available in this notice. FTA may update allocations without further notice based on revised validated damage assessments.


LSC Announces Funding Opportunity for Grantees to Assist Clients Impacted by Storms and Wildfires

The Legal Services Corporation today announced the application and award process for up to $14,250,000 of grants to support delivery of legal services related to the consequences of all cyclone and hurricane stages of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria and of the calendar year 2017 California wildfires. Applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. E.S.T. on Monday, June 4, 2018.  Application must be submitted electronically at These grants will fund necessary expenses for grantees to provide (1) mobile resources, (2) technology, and (3) disaster coordinators for pro bono volunteers, all of which must be necessary to provide storm-related services to LSC-eligible clients in the areas significantly affected by the 2017 Hurricanes and California Wildfires.  Application materials and descriptions of eligible activities can be found at  LSC will post all additional information regarding this grant process at that website. LSC strongly encourages existing LSC grantees to apply for funding through these grants for any activities that meet the grant criteria. For disaster-related needs that are beyond the scope of these grants, LSC grantees may also apply for grants from LSC’s Disaster Relief Emergency Grant Program, which is not limited to specific disasters or specific types of activities. LSC has only $2,000,000 available for those Disaster Relief grants. Entities applying to both the 2017 Hurricanes and California Wildfires and LSC’s  Disaster Relief Emergency Grant Programs should submit those applications at the same time and explain how the activities described in each application relate to each other.  See:


EDA Issues NOFO for $587M in Supplemental Funding for Areas Impacted by 2017 Hurricanes, Wildfires and Other Disasters

As noted above, EDA has issued a NOFO (EDA-2018-DISASTER) inviting applications for $587 million in grants available to eligible entities to address economic challenges in disaster-impacted areas. These grants will support disaster recovery activities in areas receiving a major disaster designation as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and wildfires and other 2017 natural disasters. EDA plans to accept proposals on a rolling basis until all funds are obligated. See listing above and these links below for details:


HUD Awards Nearly $28 Billion to Help Nine States, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands from Major Disasters

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $28 billion to support long-term disaster recovery in hard-hit areas in nine states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These funds are provided through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program and will address seriously damaged housing, businesses and infrastructure from major disasters that occurred since 2015.

The grants announced by HUD represent the largest single amount of disaster recovery assistance in HUD’s history and include more than $12 billion for major disasters that occurred in 2017 and nearly $16 billion to support ‘mitigation’ activities in areas that experienced major Presidentially declared disasters since 2015.  Mitigation can broadly be described as actions taken to protect communities from the predictable damage from future events.

The listing of all States and territories with subtotals and totals can be found at


EPA Announces Puerto Rico Youth and the Environment Program – Apply by May 25

EPA-R2-CWD-FO-001: Puerto Rico Youth and the Environment Program. Posted 04/12/2018.

EPA Region 2 is soliciting grant applications from eligible applicants for the development of projects in Puerto Rico for eligible post-Hurricane Maria restoration activities in the (1) Vieques Bioluminescent Mosquito Bay; and (2) San Juan Bay Estuary, that involve training, studies and/or demonstrations relating to the reduction of the sedimentation load; elimination of water pollution; and/or the development of an environmental education program and materials through the Youth and the Environment program. Project activities may include, but are not limited to the training of no fewer than 2 ten (10) youths in their respective communities of Vieques and San Juan Bay. The youths will work 10 hours each week for 16 weeks, and will be employed from June to October. The young participants who are recruited will be trained primarily on environmental and community assessment, skills development and mentorship. Eligible activities must support the post-Hurricane Maria environmental restoration and relief effort.  Link to Additional Information


USDA FY18 Conservation Innovation Grants Avail for PR and USVI

USDA-NRCS-PR-CIG-001  USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has posted a Funding Opportunity for its FY18 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) – Caribbean Area. Applications will be accepted from eligible entities for projects carried out in the USDA Caribbean Area: Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands. CIG grants are designed to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. A total of up to $250,000.00 is available for CIG in FY 2018. The maximum for a single award is $75,000.00.  FY18 Proposals must explicitly state which priority(ies) and sub-prority(ies) are being addressed. Caribbean Area CIG Priorities for FY 2018 are:

  1. Steep land Agricultural Technology;
  2. Renewable energy on Agricultural Enterprises and
  3. Risk Prevention and Management of Natural Resources affected by Natural Disasters.

See full announcement for subpriorities and additional instructions:

APPLICATIONS DUE by 4 p.m. Eastern Time on May 30, 2018. Submit electronically through In addition, a PDF of the complete application must be emailed to [email protected].


Related Resources – NonFederal:

Updates on FEMA Response in Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands

NEW! HUD Awards Nearly $20 Million to Support Homeless Programs in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today (June 4) awarded nearly $20 million to support to dozens of local homeless housing and service programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Continuum of Care grants announced today provide critically needed housing and support services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness across the territories, including those impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

News Release / Listing of Grants

Where to Find Federal Disaster Declarations

  • Is your home, business or community included in a federally declared emergency or disaster area? You can find the latest federal emergency and disaster declarations, as well as prior declarations for other areas, on FEMA’s disaster declarations webpage.

Amended Declarations

Existing Declarations may be subsequently amended to expand covered areas, provide notification that an incident has been closed, or make other necessary changes.

These are posted in the Federal Register here:

Economic Recovery Support

Read more about the Economic Recovery Support Function and the National Disaster Response Framework here:

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